Sorry for the late post, had an exam today!
Arsenal vs. Manchester United
What a big game this could turn out to be. After Arsenal’s capitulation in recent games and Arsene’s frustrations being publicly lamented, the Frenchman is under the most pressure that he has been under in many, many years. And United, and Ferguson, would love to stick the boot in a little further, and of course, advance their own climb towards the summit that is in full swing after their resurgence in form. Expect this to be a fiery encounter, with United determined to test those players branded cowards, and those players determined to prove their critics wrong. Whatever has been said about Arsenal though, I think they’ll have the staying power to frustrate United, and I think a share of the spoils may be on the cards.
Wigan Athletic vs. Stoke City
Well Stoke will be bouyed by their conquest of Arsenal last week, but don’t expect Wigan to crumble quite as easily. Stoke haven;t picked up much away from the intimidation of the Britannia Stadium, and though Wigan’s defence doesn’t do justice to Steve Bruce’s playing career, I think they’ll have the toughness to handle Delap’s long throws and the Stoke forwards’ physicality, and other than that, Stoke don’t have many weapons. If Wigan’s highly coveted strike partnership can find a way through, I see Wigan sneaking it.
Hull City vs. Bolton Wanderers
Hull’s start to the season has faded in light of their recent defeats (albeit a narrow one to United) in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see if they have the mentality to get back to winning ways against a tough Bolton side. They picked up a comfortable win against Man City last week and will want to try and capitalise on their improved confidence. I think this one will be tight, and it’s difficult to call, but i think Hull might bounce back and prolong the dream.
Sunderland Athletic vs. Portsmouth
Portsmouth haven’t really recovered from ‘Arry’s departure yet, despite a couple of near misses under Tony Adams so far. I fancied Sunderland to have a decent season after they started reasonably well but they have looked off the pace in recent weeks, and last weekend’s demolition at Chelsea will have dented confidence. Still, Keano will have them fired up, that’s for sure, and I think they could continue their up and down season and Pompey’s decline with a home win here.
West Ham United vs. Everton
West Ham look like they’re in a bit of trouble recently, failing to capitalise on a good first half at Middlesbrough last week and then losing out. Everton seem to finally be coming good after a couple of tight wins, but their away form has been better than their hom form so far, and they will fancy their chances of getting something from West Ham. With Louis Saha back on the score sheet against Fulham and with Fellaini in form and Cahill back from suspension i think they’ll take the three points.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion
West Brom are the antithesis of Stoke so far this season, persisting to play their nice football and paying the price for it in the Pts. column. Liverpool of course lost to Tottenham last time out in the league and were massively fortunate to get a point from Atletico in midweek, but with Torres likely to start for them, they will be hopeful of capitalising on the Baggies’ weak defence. With luck on their side, a home win seems inevitable, West Brom, prove me wrong!
Blackburn Rovers vs. Chelsea (Sun)
Well Scolari faces his first real test after a limp Chelsea performance saw them rolled over by Roma in midweek. And while Blackburn haven’t looked as convincing under Paul Ince as they did under Sparky Hughes, a trip to Ewood park is never going to be easy. I can see this one being a tentative affair with both sides worried about over-committing, and that could see Chelsea have to settle for a frustrating draw.
Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough
Villa have looked good so far this season but have had a few disappointments, including the defeat to Newcastle. Middlesbrough fans will be quietly optimistic about their side, which is playing well and starting to pick up the points their performances deserve. They are only going to keep improving, with youngsters like Wheater in the side, but i think O’Neill’s team will triumph this time, to keep in touch with the top four.
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Both these sides have spent serious money and both are yet to see the rewards as yet. Obviously Spurs had a disastrous start but Redknapp’s arrival really seems to have galvanised the troops, while Hughes’ City have struggled for consistency, being turned over by Bolton last time out. A big test for both teams then, and I think City in front of a home crowd may finally bring Harry’s euphoric start to his reign to an end.
Fulham vs. Newcastle United
Well Fulham have struggled so far, picking up odd results but not managing to string anything of note together. Newcastle have looked a much sterner side under Joe Kinnear, at St. James’ especially, and I think by now he will have got them fighting for each other enough to give them the fire to start picking up points on the road. If Fulham can click they will trouble Newcastle, but there seem to be a few pieces missing from their puzzle so far.